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Privacy Is Good For Business

Consumers are now not only second-guessing the security of their personal information when they make routine shopping trips, but are also extending this lack of trust to how they perceive the stores and brands they once preferred. Discussions of privacy and security policies are now happening in boardrooms across the globe, and many of these conversations are zeroing in on what should be done to integrate privacy as an added value to the business.

Privacy is good for business


The added value of privacy is intrinsic no matter where your company sits in the digital economy. From consumer goods manufacturers to healthcare services entities, any business will benefit from proactively tackling privacy issues in one of three primary ways: protecting your brand, offering a competitive advantage from integrating privacy and security features into products and services, and creating new products and services designed to protect personal data.

Subsequently, many privacy advocates and regulators have pointed to this example to highlight the need for companies to make privacy a priority. Companies need to pay careful attention to privacy-related activities before an incident like this happens. Attention includes not only putting in adequate control mechanisms to prevent issues, but also building up positive brand associations with privacy and security. There are three main mechanisms to do this, and at Intel we are pursuing all of them.

Today, privacy is an active area of marketing for the technology industry. Companies compete on the basis of how long they retain personal data, whether they share data with third parties, the extent to which they encrypt data at rest and in transit, and whether they provide products and services where personal data is automatically deleted or expires.

And the protection of privacy is no longer the concern of just technology companies. The shift to a fundamentally digital economy means that, regardless of the sector you are in, your ability to protect individuals will distinguish your company from competitors who have taken a passive approach or who ignore their responsibilities.

For example, a GPS application in your car could collect and provide powerful information for you and everyone else driving by, delivering real-time traffic travel route recommendations during commute hours. But a driver may be less enthusiastic to know the application is also sharing driving habits with their insurance company, which could adjust rates based on that information. The business that applies the right formula of risk and reward will win.

Data's impact on business is often viewed from a very narrow perspective: We either discuss compliance or how companies use data insights to improve personalization capabilities, target users and adjust their products. But we must consider a whole other side to this relationship to maximize the opportunities offered by today's data privacy climate.

Data practices can send critical messages to everyone regarding the company's business ethics and fit for today's online culture. Data privacy impacts how customers perceive the brand, how prospective and current employees view their workplace and how authorities and media outlets treat the company. In short, data practices offer a chance for brands to take the lead and own a strategic space focused on data transparency and access.

As mentioned, privacy can play a leading role in the brand's perceived business ethics. The same way people now check how a company's actions impact the environment and seek to buy from more sustainable brands, the world is taking a closer look at companies' privacy policies to learn about the values behind the name. The fact that leading brands like Apple and Google choose to demonstrate a more responsible approach should tell you just that.

It's important to remember that you should always balance privacy against value. The data ownership revolution is focused on ensuring that any data we provide is given in exchange for actual value from a service or product. The more information you ask for or trade, the more difficult it may be to convince customers that you're worth it.

According to studies, the audiences willing to actively embrace or abandon brands based on how they treat users' personal data are younger, richer and shop more online, according to the same Cisco study mentioned above. This triple threat tells businesses that today's and tomorrow's purchasing power lies in the hands of those who care about their data and choose brands that fit the bill.

Hiring the best people is an essential step towards success. The battle over talent in most markets is fierce, with companies experiencing a severe shortage of skilled and motivated workers. According to HR website Glassdoor, companies invest a lot of effort in shaping and nurturing their employer branding because they know that in the U.S., 86% of women and 67% of men wouldn't work for a company that has a bad reputation. A simple Google search can reveal a company's data privacy problems and impact a potential hire. If a popular candidate learns that the company is attentive and advanced in its approach to data, it can add much-needed points and may win the business a loyal and capable new employee.

For employees, how you treat customers' information can reflect how you treat your team's privacy and rights. A company that collects or trades personal data without consent or proper consideration tells its employees that they might be monitored without their knowledge. This feeling can affect employees' satisfaction and performance rates, with more than half stating that workplace surveillance makes them anxious and nearly half willing to reduce their pay in exchange for better privacy practices, according to an ExpressVPN survey.

GDPR fines had come a long way since the slap-on-the-wrist when the law was first introduced in 2018. In fact, between July 2020 and July 2021, the fines increased by 113.5%. Multiple records have been broken, and this trend is likely to grow even further as the debate around privacy accelerates.

Organizations looking to maintain and further build their brand should include a data privacy audit to their standard practices. If the results are great, let the world know and reap the rewards; if they're nothing to be proud of, now is the time to improve.

The FCC, Congress and the Trump Administration recently reversed proposed rules curtailing internet providers from gathering and selling sensitive customer data to marketers. This new freedom that allows companies like Verizon, AT&T and CenturyLink to enjoy the same data access as internet giants like Facebook, Google and Twitter has increased concern among Americans around internet privacy. What is the impact on entrepreneurs and businesses?

Consumers have become increasingly connected and are constantly sharing information online. They are researching, purchasing and using online products and services, via any number of connected devices. They are also opting in to share their preferences as part of interactions on social media and search sites. All of this customer data is being collected by device manufacturers, desktop and mobile apps, internet providers and mobile operators for their own purposes or to sell to other businesses.

According to a recent survey conducted by my company, AnchorFree, a staggering majority of Americans -- 95 percent -- are concerned about businesses collecting and selling personal information without permission. Additionally, over 80 percent are more concerned about their online privacy and security today than a year ago.

This means that your customers are thinking about privacy when they visit your website, use your app, and purchase your products and services. What are you doing to demonstrate to your customers that their privacy is important to your company?

Most businesses today are connected to other business partners in our highly interdependent world commerce. Businesses may be using a hosted webstore, a separate email marketing provider and a different website hosting operation. All of them deploy different ways of dealing with customer's information.

The same goes for other business partners, like affiliate marketing and associations. When businesses offer or receive customer referrals, that information is coming and going and potentially exposed and treated differently by each entity.

This distributed approach to information exposure means businesses need to think more broadly and deeply about privacy. Privacy isn't just a few paragraphs that are buried deep in a terms and conditions of use page in your website. Privacy is embedded in everyday interactions with customers. Privacy is something that can impact a brand, disrupt the customer experience and potentially damage a company's reputation.

According to a Harvard Business Review study, 72 percent of Americans are reluctant to share information with businesses because they "just want to maintain [their] privacy." And Deloitte, as a part of a study about consumer trust and data protection, explains that data privacy and security is not just a risk management issue, but a "potential source of competitive advantage that may be a central component of brand-building and corporate reputation."

Safeguarding customer privacy is more than a protective measure; it is also a strategic opportunity for brand growth and a potential business opportunity for startups and entrepreneurs, as well as large companies.

This increase in connected devices, combined with the increasing consumer concern around security and privacy breaches, will further drive the already substantial market opportunity around privacy. While the previous billion-user companies like Google and Facebook have been built on collecting data, it's projected that the ne


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